A Greek court has decided to drop that charge in the case in which 24 aid workers, including Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini, who inspired the Netflix movie “The Bathers,” were prosecuted for “espionage.”
In announcing the verdict in the case on the island of Lesbos, the court acknowledged procedural errors such as the inadequate translation of prosecution documents and the defendants’ lack of access to interpreters.
On the other hand, the investigation continues with 24 people on charges such as “assisting the entry of immigrants”, “falsifying documents”, “money laundering”, “fraud” and “illegal use of radio frequencies”.
The decision came hours after the United Nations called for the charges to be dropped.
The European Parliament responded by describing the case, which began in November 2021, as “the largest criminalization of solidarity in Europe”.
The court had stated in the previous session that only charges of “espionage” against the volunteers would be investigated, while charges of money laundering, smuggling of immigrants and fraud would be considered after the end of the investigation.
Mardini: I left the university because of the psychological problems that I suffer from because of the lawsuit
Sarah Mardini, a Syrian refugee currently living in Berlin, spent three months in prison in Greece as part of the case.
When the young woman was arrested in August 2018, she was working as a volunteer for the NGO ERCI in Lesbos, where hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly Syrians, flocked in dire conditions in 2015 and 2016.
Mardini and her sister, Olympic swimmer Yusra, arrived in 2015 after a dangerous journey from Syria to Europe, and their story was the subject of the Netflix movie “The Bathers.”
Sarah Mardini, who has been suffering from psychological problems since 2018 due to the lawsuit, said that she took a break from her university education, which she started in Germany, for this reason.
NGOs charged with rescuing migrants at sea have suspended almost all of their activities in Greece, accused of illegally sending migrants to Turkey across sea and land borders, in the face of a growing number of lawsuits filed against them.
Greece’s conservative government, which took power in 2019, has promised to make the country “less attractive” to immigrants.
In this context, despite criticism and reactions by human rights organizations, NGOs and official institutions, the Athens administration continues to confront refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.
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